Diversity in Current Ecological Thinking: Implications for Environmental Management

S.A. Moore, T.J. Wallington, Richard Hobbs, P.R. Ehrlich, C.S. Holling, S. Levin, D. Lindenmayer, C. Pahl-Wostl, H. Possingham, M.G. Turner, M. Westoby

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    69 Citations (Scopus)


    Current ecological thinking emphasizes thatsystems are complex, dynamic, and unpredictable acrossspace and time. What is the diversity in interpretation ofthese ideas among today’s ecologists, and what does thismean for environmental management? This study used aPolicy Delphi survey of ecologists to explore their perspectiveson a number of current topics in ecology. Theresults showed general concurrence with nonequilibriumviews. There was agreement that disturbance is a widespread,normal feature of ecosystems with historicallycontingent responses. The importance of recognizingmultiple levels of organization and the role of functionaldiversity in environmental change were also widelyacknowledged. Views differed regarding the predictabilityof successional development, whether ‘‘patchiness’’ is auseful concept, and the benefits of shifting the focus fromspecies to ecosystem processes. Because of their centralityto environmental management, these different views warrant special attention from both managers and ecologists.Such divergence is particularly problematic givenwidespread concerns regarding the poor linkages betweenscience (here, ecology) and environmental policy andmanagement, which have been attributed to scientificuncertainty and a lack of consensus among scientists, bothjeopardizing the transfer of science into management.Several suggestions to help managers deal with these differencesare provided, especially the need to interpretbroader theory in the context of place-based assessments.The uncertainty created by these differences requires aproactive approach to environmental management,including clearly identifying environmental objectives,careful experimental design, and effective monitoring.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)17-27
    JournalEnvironmental Management
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


    Dive into the research topics of 'Diversity in Current Ecological Thinking: Implications for Environmental Management'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this